Senate Bill 1420 won’t reduce Arizona’s costly medical marijuana card fees, but it will mandate state-regulated testing for medicinal cannabis.
Passed by a 7-1 vote by the House Committee on Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Monday, the new primary objective of SB 1420 is to protect the state’s medical marijuana patients through testing for contaminants by state-sanctioned laboratories.
While the bipartisan legislation initially contained a provision to reduce Arizona’s card fees for patients and caregivers, the amended bill approved by the House committee eliminated the following verbiage: “The department may establish a sliding scale of patient application and renewal fees based on a qualifying patient’s household income.”
“If we lower the fees, it just makes it all that much easier for our kids to get cards,” explained Sheila Polk, the Yavapai County Attorney and co-chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.
Rejected by Senate Republicans David Farnsworth (R-16th District), Gail Griffin (R-20th District) and John Kavanagh (R-23rd District) in January, over concerns that reduced fees could equate to increased participation in Arizona’s medical marijuana program, the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Sonny Borelli (R- 5th District) removed the reduced fees provisions for state-issued cards to ensure Republican support.
More about testing for potency and contaminants than patient affordability, SB 1420 would obligate the department of agriculture to regulate marijuana as an “agricultural commodity.” And, as an agricultural commodity, the Arizona Department of Agriculture would be accountable for the industry’s enforcement of marijuana testing, regulations, and standards.
The 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was implemented through the initiative process and requires a three-fourths vote of both the House and Senate to amend.